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View Full Version : Cask/Barrel Strength vs. Reg Bourbon



Don_Draper
05-23-2013, 09:35
I am fairly new to the bourbon world, but I am wondering if this has happened to anyone. I had some bourbon that I really, really liked. Then I started drinking some barrel proof bourbon like George T. Stagg and Col E H Taylor barrel proof. Now that I go back to regular bourbon it all tastes watery to me, and I can only drink barrel proof. I hate it because I bought some Blanton's Single Barrel that I used to love and now it tastes so boring to me...ugh.

darylld911
05-23-2013, 09:49
While I am definitely a fan of barrel proof, I haven't had that issue. If I drank GTS or ECBP every day for some extended period of time, I suppose I could get spoiled - so I avoid that.

393foureyedfox
05-23-2013, 10:41
Im fairly new to bourbon and alcohol in general as well....less than a year. I immediately decided 80 proofers were not what i liked, and settled into the 100 proofers and BIB stuff. Then a had a shot of Booker's.....

at the prices of cask strength stuff, they wont be everyday drinks for me, but i do prefer them. $50 a bottle for Booker's, I cant handle the thought. But, there are some cheaper (read; less expensive) ones out there that seem to have similat kicks and not be over $40. Knob Creek 120 proof is about $37 here and almost as good. A lot of people love the OGD 114, Im feeling mixed on it (open the bottle and take a first drink and its not too good, let it sit a bit and its pretty good), and its $21 here.

So, enjoying the full strength stuff hasnt ruined "regular" bourbons to me, they were already ruined. but i do imagine, if you were a long time drinker of 80 proofers, then got caught up in barrel proofers, youd not be able to go back to 80 proofers. Just out of curiousity, at the bar a few weeks ago, I tried some MM (strangely, never had any), just to see why its so popular. tasted like someone made a 50-50 mix of bourbon and water to me.

barrel proofers are awesome, but with the current trend of lowering proofs and doing away with age statements (or reducing them), Im not sure theyre going to expand much, as bourbon in general is seeing a growing popularity. supply and demand, you know.

Meruck
05-23-2013, 10:50
4-I'd-fox is right.

if 100 proof is the base line you will do fine down to 90 and up to whatever, 80 proof is more of a mixer for when the neighbors come over.

omgmarclol
05-23-2013, 10:53
i like variety. sometimes i like to drink barrel strength offerings and sometimes i like lower proof bottlings. it all depends on my mood. but i'd never say that i can only drink barrel or high proof after drinking *insert barrel strength bottling*.

Tico
05-23-2013, 11:01
Sometimes I like to have a standard 90 proof drink before I dip into the barrel proof stuff. It helps calibrate my palate a bit, the first sip of the night being barrel proof stuff can sometimes be a bit rough!

Grain Belt
05-23-2013, 11:07
At the hunting shack where I go each November we have a cocktail hour once the weapons are safely housed each evening. I am one of the younger members and the older fellas go into their early 70's. My dad and uncle are bourbon and water guys. Some are brandy coke guys, and one is a rum coke guy. When I pour my bourbon on the rocks or just add a splash of water they look at me in shocked amazement. I wonder what they would do with a neat pour of OGD 114!? I am writing this just to illustrate the habits of ten average guys. The bourbon afficianados are a rare lot. Those who go bonded or higher are rarer yet, at least in my circles.

AaronWF
05-23-2013, 11:11
It's about flavor more than proof for me. Higher proof can often be a shortcut to more flavor, but not always. Blanton's is fine, but I don't get much from it. I'm trying to think of a 90 or less bourbon that doesn't taste watered down to me... Perhaps FRYL or SmB, but it's been awhile on those. ETL varies by barrel, but the last bottle I had was full of flavor. Same with EWSB, especially a particular barrel of the '03 vintage.

Anyway, you're better off not caring for Blanton's. It's over-priced IMO.

squire
05-23-2013, 11:24
Booker Noe would fill a tall glass with ice, throw in a half ounce of his namesake Bourbon, then fill the glass with water calling the drink Kentucky Tea. Elmer T. Lee mixed his namesake Bourbon with Sprite. I recon we can class those two as Bourbon aficionados.

Flyfish
05-23-2013, 11:34
Sometimes I like to have a standard 90 proof drink before I dip into the barrel proof stuff. It helps calibrate my palate a bit, the first sip of the night being barrel proof stuff can sometimes be a bit rough!
I have the opposite experience. I start with the fuller-flavored, higher proof--sipping just about a half shot--then segue to the regular. I want the full experience, undiluted by the diluted, so to speak.

ramblinman
05-23-2013, 11:41
I think its "ruined" things a bit more me too. The 80 proof, neat anyway, isn't a good sipping proof for me. Its great in mixers and fine enough if I'm in the mood for a sweet chaser, but for drinking neat or in a real cocktail 90+ and 100+ preferred is where its at.

Grain Belt
05-23-2013, 12:42
Booker Noe would fill a tall glass with ice, throw in a half ounce of his namesake Bourbon, then fill the glass with water calling the drink Kentucky Tea. Elmer T. Lee mixed his namesake Bourbon with Sprite. I recon we can class those two as Bourbon aficionados.

I didn't mean that those that drink other than neat aren't aficionados I meant to point out that high proof lovers are a rare breed within those that do partake in bourbon. The highest number of bourbon sippers probably starts with Jim Beam and coke and goes from there.

Meruck
05-23-2013, 13:24
I'm trying to think of a 90 or less bourbon that doesn't taste watered down to me....

Weller 12 would be a fine place to start

AaronWF
05-23-2013, 13:46
Weller 12 would be a fine place to start

I was really bored and turned off by my last few bottles of this. Lots of astringent wood and not much else. Been a while though, perhaps a revisit is in order!

Meruck
05-23-2013, 14:01
I was really bored and turned off by my last few bottles of this. Lots of astringent wood and not much else. Been a while though, perhaps a revisit is in order!


Then what you need is the SB blend, really calms the wood and bring the best of both worlds to the table.

smknjoe
05-23-2013, 14:23
I was really bored and turned off by my last few bottles of this. Lots of astringent wood and not much else. Been a while though, perhaps a revisit is in order!

I'm with you on that one.

Like you posted earlier, ETL. It has quite a bit of flavor for a 90 proofer even if that flavor varies from barrel to barrel. I think Squire turned me on to it when I first signed up at SB and I haven't looked back. Jefferson's Reserve is good if you can get it for $40 or less (I haven't had the small batch.) And there is always Four Roses Small Batch - $26, 90 proof, lots of flavor. Admittedly, it took a while for that one to grow on me. If I had to pick one though, it would be ETL. I buy some every time I see it and have at least case in reserve.

squire
05-23-2013, 15:11
At least a case in reserve, good play that.

ER07
05-23-2013, 16:02
I hardly ever drink barrel proof bourbons undiluted. I find the 120+ proof bourbon's flavors overpowered by the alcohol. A few drops of water really help me appreciate it more

justataste
05-23-2013, 16:16
Im fairly new to bourbon and alcohol in general as well....less than a year. I immediately decided 80 proofers were not what i liked, and settled into the 100 proofers and BIB stuff. Then a had a shot of Booker's.....

Just out of curiousity, at the bar a few weeks ago, I tried some MM (strangely, never had any), just to see why its so popular. tasted like someone made a 50-50 mix of bourbon and water to me.



Yep 393. I agree. Every time I try MM, on the rocks, neat or with a splash, I keep trying to find some taste. Not much there. Booker's on the other hand......

squire
05-23-2013, 16:35
100 proof has been the standard for so long (BIBs) I just have it ingrained in my head that's the right proof for the good stuff.

savagehenry
05-23-2013, 16:45
You may soon tire of cask strength and go back to some lower proof offerings.

hectic1
05-23-2013, 16:47
i like variety. sometimes i like to drink barrel strength offerings and sometimes i like lower proof bottlings. it all depends on my mood. but i'd never say that i can only drink barrel or high proof after drinking *insert barrel strength bottling*. Ditto on this...I prefer barrel proof unfiltered bourbons on most nights but there are certain nights when a 90-100pr bourbon fits the bill! ;)

squire
05-23-2013, 16:50
As far as I'm concerned if it says Bourbon on the label it fits the bill.

MyOldKyDram
05-23-2013, 16:50
Can't think of an 80 proofer that interests me, but very nearly everything else is in play.

darylld911
05-23-2013, 16:58
Can't think of an 80 proofer that interests me, but very nearly everything else is in play.

Good point - while I'm not stuck on barrel proof, my range probably doesn't go all the way to the shallow end :grin:

squire
05-23-2013, 16:58
Yeah well I used to say I'd never date a woman over 40.

Meruck
05-23-2013, 17:30
Yeah well I used to say I'd never date a woman over 40.

I still wont,......... my wife would be livid!!!!!

darylld911
05-23-2013, 17:52
Yeah well I used to say I'd never date a woman over 40.

I'm not saying I'd never drink 80 proof - just that to date I haven't found much I care to drink. Some folks don't care for young whiskey, but I've had 3 yr Willett rye (around 110 proof) that I thought was tremendously better than 4 yr Old Overholt (at 80 proof). Granted, OO is down to 3 yrs (or is labeled as such - probably still in transition), but I'd bet I would like it better if it was bottled at 90 or even 100 proof. Bernie Lubbers was lobbying Beam to make that a BIB to compete with RR, and he was disappointed to hear it going in the other direction.

Long story short - maybe one day I'll meet an 80 proof gal that "does it" for me. Thus far, hadn't happened. But that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't date her :lol:

mosugoji64
05-23-2013, 20:18
I'm not saying I'd never drink 80 proof - just that to date I haven't found much I care to drink.

I haven't found many that I like, either. Virginia Gentleman and ND OT come to mind, but those are the only ones. Most of them just taste too watery and bland.

BigBoldBully
05-23-2013, 20:50
Booker Noe would fill a tall glass with ice, throw in a half ounce of his namesake Bourbon, then fill the glass with water calling the drink Kentucky Tea. Elmer T. Lee mixed his namesake Bourbon with Sprite. I recon we can class those two as Bourbon aficionados.

So glad you mention this, squire. I was about to confess that I do something similar once I have gotten properly acquainted with a bourbon through some neat sippin'. The Kentucky Tea version I have just been calling optimized water. Many other times lemonade is the liquid partner of choice. Speaking to the OP's dilemma, though, even with these predilections of mine, often a good high abv bourbon discharges its diluted duties better than an 80%er (speaking % for %). Maybe it has something to do with extra filtering messing with the "standard" expressions?

CoMobourbon
05-23-2013, 20:54
I'm not saying I'd never drink 80 proof - just that to date I haven't found much I care to drink. Some folks don't care for young whiskey, but I've had 3 yr Willett rye (around 110 proof) that I thought was tremendously better than 4 yr Old Overholt (at 80 proof). Granted, OO is down to 3 yrs (or is labeled as such - probably still in transition), but I'd bet I would like it better if it was bottled at 90 or even 100 proof. Bernie Lubbers was lobbying Beam to make that a BIB to compete with RR, and he was disappointed to hear it going in the other direction.

Long story short - maybe one day I'll meet an 80 proof gal that "does it" for me. Thus far, hadn't happened. But that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't date her :lol:

FRY! She's well over 40, but she is keeping it tight! (Insert an even more sexist MILF joke here).

Regarding the op: as long as I keep it within a proof territory (e.g. 90ish, 120ish) over the course of one night, I am usually good.

black mamba
05-23-2013, 21:22
The only 80 proofer I buy (and like) is 4RYL with it's wonderful, silky mouthfeel, but I like to blend it with OGDBIB as well, to make 90 pf.

RR10 yr is a full flavored 90 pf bourbon . . . . good stuff.

tigerlam92
05-23-2013, 22:43
Agreed with the taste and variety.

Want to stress the different proof lends better to different ways to drink - neat, splash of water and ice for different mood.

But if you like GTS neat and gulping it, then you probably need to count how many active taste buds you have. :) Then diluting 200 proof ethanol will be better.

Balcones Winston
05-24-2013, 13:28
I can't really appreciate many whiskies under 100 proof. Some of the dusties out there are nice at 90, maybe even 86, but you don't get as full a mouthfeel, which is disappointing at times.

Meruck
05-24-2013, 16:45
..............., but you don't get as full a mouthfeel, which is disappointing at times.

If I knew you better I might make a "ur mom" joke

WAINWRIGHT
05-24-2013, 16:58
All points of my own personal views have already been covered.I will agree in the assessment that mood is a truly defining factor for me as for proof of pour in a given evening and so is the factor of flavor over proof in many cases as Aaron has already touched on earlier.I think a combination of these two main factors are key to my own personal tastes,I will also have to say that I have never been proof spoiled in any instance.

Danger
05-24-2013, 20:51
Isn't that bourbon-racism or proofism or something if you refuse to acknowledge the virtues of anything under a certain proof?

squire
05-24-2013, 21:41
It's called Bourbon profiling.

darylld911
05-25-2013, 04:38
I don't think most of us could afford (either from a time or money perspective) to try EVERY bourbon or whiskey that hits the shelves. If you know you're not a big fan of 80 or 86 proof bourbon, I suppose you could go out and buy new stuff that is in that range. But - if I know I like corn flakes, but don't care for Rice Krispies - I'm a special kinda stupid if I buy every new kind of Rice Krispies. True - there might be one with enough different stuff that I enjoy - but I'm likely to waste a lot of time/money on that chance.

Back to the op question - I really do like barrel proof stuff, but don't think I would exclude all others as that is a very narrow category. I don't have any stats, but I'm pretty sure if I did a poll of my local bottle shops offerings I would find less than 10% are barrel proof. My recommendation would be to not drink the BP stuff as often if you're finding it takes away from your enjoyment of all others, as this could lead to a very expensive stash :)

Special Reserve
05-25-2013, 06:55
Can't think of an 80 proofer that interests me, but very nearly everything else is in play.

BHC I. W. Harper at 80 proof is very good bourbon. I've had a few bottles and still have a couple left, I'd buy more if I found it. I think it's about the only 80 proof bourbon that I'd purchase.

squire
05-25-2013, 07:11
Your breakfast cereal reference is an apt comparison Gary. For years (decades) we bought every new brand that came on the market but now I stick to the rye recipe Bourbons and don't feel slighted in the least.

boneuphtoner
05-25-2013, 19:24
Call me crazy, but I certainly enjoy a couple of neat cask strength whiskeys (THH, Bookers, GTS) while simultaneously also appreciating the softness of many of the lower proof bourbons (ETL, Four Roses Yellow, Old Forester 86, JD Old No. 7). If you are looking at these lower proof pours looking for the same experience as cask strength, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. They are different animals. Most bourbon drinkers more experienced than I say to appreciate the lower proof offerings for what they are.

MyOldKyDram
05-25-2013, 19:45
BHC I. W. Harper at 80 proof is very good bourbon. I've had a few bottles and still have a couple left, I'd buy more if I found it. I think it's about the only 80 proof bourbon that I'd purchase.

Never seen any of these, but if I do will definitely give it a whirl.

squire
05-25-2013, 19:52
The Bourbon Heritage Collection limited edition 15 year 80 proof Harper came out in the mid 90s and a bottle may surface from time to time but the chances of finding one are slim.

MyOldKyDram
05-25-2013, 20:05
Yeah, I know. But I'm just dumb enough to keep looking. :P

squire
05-25-2013, 20:10
If you find two I'll buy one off 'ya.

bad_scientist
05-26-2013, 06:52
Call me crazy, but I certainly enjoy a couple of neat cask strength whiskeys (THH, Bookers, GTS) while simultaneously also appreciating the softness of many of the lower proof bourbons (ETL, Four Roses Yellow, Old Forester 86, JD Old No. 7). If you are looking at these lower proof pours looking for the same experience as cask strength, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. They are different animals. Most bourbon drinkers more experienced than I say to appreciate the lower proof offerings for what they are.

The only real rule is, start with lower proofs if you're doing a tasting! Otherwise, your preferences are all yours, unique, and important. As long as you honestly speak your mind, everyone wins.

squire
05-26-2013, 09:29
I've found keeping the bottle within reach a good rule.

Meruck
05-26-2013, 13:09
glass optional...........

stiffchainey
05-26-2013, 13:12
OGD is good at 90, but that's it for me. I usually go for the higher proof stuff - just more flavour.